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The Use of Seat Belts Differs Across the Country

Even though the use of seat belts has been around for decades and even though it is accepted common knowledge that seat belt use reduces injury in car accidents, there remain significant differences in how different areas of the country and how different demographics of drivers and passengers choose to use seat belts. West Coast states have the highest percentage of seat belt use while Northern Plains States have the lowest.

The West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington have the highest percentage of seat belt use. Oregon ranks the highest among all fifty states. Ninety-four percent of people in Oregon always wear their seat belt according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. California had the second highest percentage of its citizens reporting that they always use a seat belt at 93.2 percent. Washington came in third at 92 percent. The Plains states of North Dakota and South Dakota came in last with 59.2 percent and 59.7 percent respectively. Interestingly, New Hampshire reported that 66.4 percent of its people always wear a seat belt. The statistic could be related to the state’s tradition of libertarian politics.

Different demographic groups were more likely or less likely to use seat belts according to the new report. Teenagers and other young drivers reported the lowest use of seat belts. Drivers ages 16 to 24 have the highest rate of injury and death in car accidents. Women were more likely than men to use seat belts and urban dwellers were more likely to wear seat belts than people who live in the country. Car accidents remain the top killer among people ages 5 to 34 years old.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Californians Are Among the Most Likely to Use Seat Belts,” Rong-Gong Lin II, 1/6/11

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